Regional Pest Alerts on blueberry viruses

These North Central IPM Center publications describe the symptoms, biology and management of blueberry scorch virus and blueberry shock virus, two exotic plant viruses potentially in Michigan.

The North Central IPM Center has sponsored the publication of two new Regional Pest Alerts titled Blueberry Scorch Virus and Blueberry Shock Virus. These fact sheets are meant to alert blueberry growers, nursery owners, consultants and Extension personnel in the north central region to the symptoms, biology and management of two exotic plant viruses that were discovered in a few Michigan blueberry fields in 2009. These viruses are not widespread in Michigan, and we believe that blueberry shock virus has been successfully eradicated, whereas blueberry scorch virus is limited to a few locations identified in a large-scale survey conducted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture in 2010.

These viruses do not pose a health risk to people, but can damage blueberry bushes and reduce fruit yield and plant longevity. Their symptoms (flower and shoot necrosis) look very much alike despite the fact that these viruses are very different from each other. Plants tend to recover from blueberry shock virus while blueberry scorch virus can kill blueberry bushes of sensitive cultivars, such as those showing necrosis symptoms. However, many cultivars show no or only mild symptoms in response to blueberry scorch virus infection and may not experience noticeable yield loss. Also, symptoms may be confused with those of fungal or bacterial diseases or herbicide injury.

The most distinguishing characteristic of blueberry scorch or shock virus infection is the presence of scattered diseased bushes amidst perfectly healthy bushes. It is important to be vigilant because of the potential damage these viruses can cause to sensitive blueberry cultivars. If a grower suspects that either of these viruses is present on their farm, they can contact their local Extension educator or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Department of Plant Pathology at Michigan State University, at517-355-0483 ext. 7539 for help with disease diagnosis.

Read the Regional Pest Alert fact sheets:

Dr. Schilder’s work is funded in part by MSU‘s AgBioResearch.

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